Issue 16 | April 19, 2002
USPTO Business Plan Highlights
 The latest USPTO Business Plan was released on March 28, 2002 with two simple goals: 1) to enhance the quality of USPTO products and services, and 2) to minimize patent and trademark applicant processing time.

For the first goal, the PTO is supporting legislative action to enhance the current reexamination process as a viable alternative to litigation. The plan also proposes quality reviews prior to the disposal of patent applications and Quality Assurance Specialists acting as a "Second Pair of Eyes" for allowed applications in targeted, emerging technologies.

With regard to the second goal, the Plan proposes offering customers a choice of processing time options. Under the standard processing option, the objective is to achieve an average pendency time of 12 months to the first action and 26 months to issuance. A new "Rocket Docket" for expedited processing will guarantee customers 12 months pendency from filing to issuance upon payment of an additional fee and submission of a pre-filing search by the applicant, a waiver the right to any extensions of time, and a statement that all of the claims will stand or fall together. A third option, deferred examination, will allow customers to postpone certain examination fees until they decide whether to pursue the application, as long as they agree to mandatory publication and waiver of any patent term adjustments.

The report concludes that "The capital investment required to fund the[se] initiatives … and the full retirement costs for USPTO employees as required by the Administration will outstrip projected fee income based on current established fee levels. To mitigate this problem, the USPTO will propose a one-year surcharge for FY 2003 to cover the costs to begin initiatives in support of the USPTO's longer-term pendency, quality, and e-Government goals."

While the bad news is that government fees may be going up, the good news is that the USPTO is still the value leader in supplying intellectual property examination services. Here are some interesting comparative statistics from the USPTO:

And, don't forget to that the latest 8th Edition of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) and 3rd Edition of the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) are now available on the USPTO's website.

To discuss this topic further, please contact the author, Bill Heinze, at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley. The information contained in this email is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.


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